I finished Learn Python the Hard Way, and it was a good book. However, it is indeed the hard way to learn Python. Zed minces no words in voicing his disdain for other ways of learning how to program, and the text often says, "Go learn about that" for any subject in which the author has no interest. However, that subject may be critical to helping a student understand computer programming.
I started another book called Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist by Allen Downey, and it is a much softer way of learning Python. The author introduces concepts and then builds upon them. As someone who has taught technical courses, I am a big believer in the need to understand core concepts before trying to create something. So, I am enjoying Allen's book more than Zed's, but I appreciate Zed's approach to getting things done.
Some people teach swimming by throwing students into the pool while others get into the water and swim alongside the people they're trying to teach. I much prefer the latter so I'll recommend Allen's book to others who want to learn Python.